A recap of night two for Rock On The River 2017
By early Saturday afternoon, John Olaveson could confidently say that round two of Rock On The River was more successful than last year.
The co-chairman of the Timmins Festivals and Events Committee could also confirm that a third festival was on the way for next summer.
“Friday, we’ve probably seen an increase of about 700 people from last year,” said Olaveson while headliners Big Wreck went through their sound check. “Friday was almost an experiment. Last year, it was both nights of rock. Friday was more contemporary, pop and then hip hop.
“I think it’s a positive change, because it’s attracting different people. Not all people might like rock.”
Olaveson said the committee learned from their first year – and they’ll make changes again after this year.
“There were some struggles last year, being our first year, not knowing what to expect, and drawing up a budget. We were a bit green for that,” he said.
“There’s some discussion we might want a bigger stage next year. We’re hoping our fundraisers will be well-attended like they have been and we’ll be able to bring a bigger stage for next year.”
The committee, which is a non-profit, will take a break after doing a debrief next week. Then they’ll get ready for Rocktoberfest, a fundraiser for TFEC.
“I can definitely say right now there will be Rock On The River part three next year. With the support we’re getting from the community, sponsors and that stuff, it’s looking good.”
Olaveson said ROTR was “more contemporary” than Stars & Thunder music festival, which was hosted by the city earlier this month.
“Friday night’s artists, with Coleman Hell and Tyler Shaw, they’re chart-toppers, recent chart-toppers.”
The co-chairman of the TFEC said Adam Gontier, former Three Days Grace frontman, was the highlight of the weekend.
“Three Days Grace has been a big influence on my band, so it’s really good to see Adam stripping down all those hard-rock songs to play all acoustic.”
Taking the stage on Saturday night was Sudbury-based band Blackwood Sinners, who won a spot in the lineup during the TFEC’s band battle in April. The foursome competed against nine other bands at the McIntyre Curling Club.
Lead singer and guitarist Andrew Boyd, lead guitarist Andre Beaulieu, drummer Mike Lavigne and bassist Connor Mitchell spoke with The Daily Press from their trailer at Participark.
Lavigne said the band, which has been together for just over two years, is grateful for the way TFEC hosted them.
“Everything from the band battle that we were a part of, right down to hotels, and little things, like coming into our room and having a cooler of water for us – that means a lot,” said Lavigne.
“That shows they have a lot of respect for artists and we have mad respect for TFEC.”
Boyd said the band keeps it simple.
“We don’t use any flashy gimmicks or anything of the sort. We just try and stay true to the music, and write music inspired by 70s, 80s, 90s, kind of everything great that came before the current genres,” Boyd said.
“Another thing that we really pride ourselves on is when we go out there, we give it 100 per cent, no matter what. We leave it all on the line, and to me, that is rock and roll.”
Mitchell connected with the band after posting an ad online.
“A lot of people ask us, what band do you want to be? I think what keeps us together is we know what band we don’t want to be.”
Lavigne said that being in a band isn’t easy – but Blackwood Sinners has been.
“You need to find the right people, you need to find the right schedule, the right family life. Every time we’re together, it just seems like everything lines up, right down to having a jam session.”
The bandmates described themselves as pumped, sweaty and euphoric in the hours leading up to their show, which opened Saturday night’s performances.